Relationship Advice? Finding the Best Quality Answers
We turn to the internet for all kinds of help, including relationship advice.
However, with so many sources of information, how can you be certain the help you're seeing will be valid? In other words, is what you're reading going to be genuinely helpful?
I'll give you some pointers on how to learn more about the best-available relationship advice. Here are several ways to determine whether the relationship advice you seek will be valid and, in turn, potentially helpful.
The best relationship advice is based in science. There is much to be learned from research studies on relationships! Indeed, the science of relationships has emerged as a leading source of understanding how to keep relationships strong and vibrant.
New studies of how the brain responds to relationships are giving us new insight. Thanks to brain-imaging research, scientists can actually watch how our brain responds to our partner. In these studies, researchers have gained a deeper understanding into the importance of a loving, caring relationship.
How Science Makes the Difference in Relationship Advice
So, here's an example of our brain science in action:
John and Mary have been struggling in their relationship. They argue more and about often very-small issues. They can't seem to exit the arguments and, when they do, they can't seem to resolve any important concerns.
Here's a little glimpse at why science matters: In counseling, John and Mary will learn that the emotional part of their brain becomes more easily activated these days. It doesn't take much to trigger an angry response or for one of them to want to withdraw from the discussion.
And, here's where hope begins: They can learn to calm their brain's automatic response so they can get to the heart of their concerns, being gentle and understanding of each other. They can learn to peacefully discuss any issues.
The Symptoms of Relationship Distress
When we feel disconnected or doubtful about our partner, our brain sets in motion thoughts that lead to actions.
Couples who are not getting along:
--Experience less physical and emotional intimacy
--May argue more frequently, often about small things
--May avoid each other, for fear that an argument will happen
-- Experience more stress in other aspects of their lives, such as work and parenting
Good, science-based relationship advice helps couples get to the root causes of their disconnection. "Popular" advice often only discusses the symptoms.
The Science of "Attachment"
As human beings, our brains are wired to connect with others. In primitive times, being part of a group offered greater safety. Over time, we have learned that a bond with one significant other person brought us great joy and a sense of being securely loved. Our partner becomes an important resource to balance our emotions when the world brings us challenges.
Others are anxious: At times, they can be very insecure, almost "clingy" and seem to be frequently concerned about their partner's commitment to them.
A third style is avoidant. It's difficult for some people to feel close and safe with others. They maintain a distance that can be baffling to their partner.
Many of us have some traits of each style.
What we know from research is that attachment has its roots in our childhood. We learned a great deal about life from our parents and main caregivers. Unconsciously, we carry this forward into our adult relationships.
Often, a root cause (here's the science again!) of a couple's distress is that they have different attachment styles. They can learn to understand and respect their partner's style and learn to help each other feel more secure.
Such Strong Emotions!
When you met your partner and fell in love, you developed a strong emotional bond. When you're not getting along, and the bond feels threatened, your emotional brain is activated. Then, your attachment style comes into play: You respond to the perceived threat by arguing, avoiding or sometimes a little of both.
Authentic, research-based relationship advice helps you get to the underlying emotions that are contributing to your distress.
Couples can learn to identify the "triggers" that cause emotional distress. They can learn how their actions or words impact their partner -- and how their own and their partner's attachment styles keep them stuck in the cycle or arguing or distancing.
We can learn to acknowledge our deeper emotions. These include fear of losing our partner, sadness about the state of the relationship and disappointment in the growing disconnection.
Couples can learn to slow down their automatic responses and turn to their partner to help them understand their deeper feelings and concerns.
And, couples using this approach have good science and research to thank. This is the difference in quality relationship advice.
Healing the Hurts in Your Relationship
It's nearly impossible in the course of a relationship to avoid accidentally hurting our partner's feelings. Some hurts are small, such as being late to an important event. Others are large: an infidelity or not being responsive when our partner needed us, such as at the death of a parent.
Often these hurts, even if many years in the past, will be brought up again when couples argue. The hurt was never healed.
Research-based approaches to helping relationships have a road map to help couples heal. The deepened understanding of ourselves and our partner that is achieved aids in successful healing. A new understanding of the importance of the bond between you, attachment styles and vulnerable feelings helps couples work together to heal past wounds.
The Most-Researched Approach to Helping Couples
I was attracted to learn Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy when I discovered there was so much science and research supporting this approach. It's no wonder, then, that Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy is considered the most effective method of helping couples.
Research shows that 90% of couples experience at least some improvement in their relationship. Those who participate in and complete this brief model can learn to maintain the gains achieved in counseling long into their future.
Be Discerning When Seeking Relationship Advice
Here's how I quickly learn more about a book or article on relationship advice: I look immediately to the back pages to see whether there are extensive lists of references. When I see lots of supporting information, I feel more confident the author has done his or her "homework" of backing up what they are saying with lots of research.
Linda Schwartz is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works exclusively with couples and individuals on relationship issues. She uses Emotionally Focused Couple therapy, the most effective approach to helping couples recapture their close connection. You can learn to resolve issues through deepening your understanding of each other's needs. We also work to heal infidelity and any past hurts in the relationship. Linda offers a free, 15-minute phone consultation to answer your questions about the counseling process. She can be reached at (602) 882-0533 or .